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Another 'Once in a Lifetime' Astronomical Viewing Event in 2024 - Rare Star Explosion

Milton Quintanilla | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Apr 29, 2024
Another 'Once in a Lifetime' Astronomical Viewing Event in 2024 - Rare Star Explosion

Another 'Once in a Lifetime' Astronomical Viewing Event in 2024 - Rare Star Explosion

NASA officials are expecting a special cosmic event that is being described as a “"once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity.” As reported by Fox News, the event is a nova explosion that is located in a star system 3,000 light years away from Earth and astronomers predict it will be visible to the "unaided eye" at some point in 2024.

"Unfortunately, we don't know the timing of this as well as we know the eclipse," Bill Cooke, lead for NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, told Fox News Digital.

"But when it happens, it'll be something you'll remember."

The nova explosion, T Coronae Borealis, is one of 10 known recurrent novas in the galaxy and has been nicknamed "the blaze star.”

"A typical nova consists of a star, like a red giant — a star bigger than the sun — and a white dwarf, which is a star about the size of the Earth," Cooke said.

"And that red giant is dumping material on the surface of that white dwarf. They're orbiting each other, and they're real close together."

Cooke further explained that when sufficient material dropped on the surface of the white dwarf, the increased temperature sets off a thermonuclear runway on the surface of that white dwarf.

"When that happens, that white dwarf blows all that material out in space, and it gets very bright, hundreds of times brighter than what it was before," Cooke said.

"And if it's close to us or relatively close to us, we will see a new start to appear in our sky."

Although a telescope would have been used to see that star, Cooke says its sudden flare into brightness can be witnessed with the unaided eye.

"T Coronae Borealis is unusual in that it doesn't blow its stack once," he said. "It does it every 79 years or so."

Its last explosion took place in 1946. According to NASA, viewers of the upcoming cosmic event will be viewing an explosion that took place 3,000 years ago because that is how it took the light to travel there.

"At the time that star blew up, 3,000 years ago, the Bronze Age was ending," Cooke said. "You had the rise of the kingdom of David in Palestine. You had all this stuff going on, but that's how far back in time that explosion occurred — 3,000 years."

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T Coronae Borealis is magnitude +10, meaning that a small telescope is needed to see it.

"But when it blows its stack, it's going to reach about magnitude +2," Cooke said.

"So to give you an idea of how bright that is — it's about as bright as Polaris, the North Star."

The explosion, which is the light produced when that matter is blown off the white dwarf’s surface, will be visible just to the right of the Hercules constellation.

"You [will] see a new star suddenly appear there," Cooke said.

"It'll look like it appears out of nowhere, and it'll stay visible for about a week before it dims back down," he continued.

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Andriy Onufriyenko

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

Another 'Once in a Lifetime' Astronomical Viewing Event in 2024 - Rare Star Explosion